Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. We’ve been going through the doctrine of God and our guide for this has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas, which can be read at newadvent.org for those who do not own a copy. We’re on the tenth chapter now on the eternality of God. Before we begin, I ask you to remember the Deeper Waters blogger in prayer. First off, for my continued Christlikeness. I do become more aware of the attitudes of the flesh and my desire to eliminate them more and more. Second, I ask for prayers for my financial situation. Third, I ask for prayers for a third related area in my life.
Tonight, we’re asking if God is the only one who is eternal. We often speak of a number of other eternal realities. For instance, we often speak of eternal life. I had someone just recently telling me that we will have eternal life to which I said “No. You won’t have eternal life, but you will live forever.” Also, what of necessary truths such as the Law of Noncontradiction? Are those not eternal?
Let’s answer the second one first. Aquinas says that there are some things that do participate in the eternality of God, but that is because they are aspects of his being and reside in the divine intellect. Of course, this is in a way that does not deviate from the doctrine of divine simplicity. It is not as if the Law of Noncontradiction is a Platonic form just floating out there somewhere.
What about eternal life? This is a case where eternal is used to describe duration in a way to indicate that it will never end. It is at this point that Aquinas brings up that there is a difference in regards to the relationship people have with time depending on if they are in Heaven or Hell.
Now he doesn’t mention Heaven, but it is an inference that can be drawn, so let’s start with the doctrine of Heaven first. In Aquinas’s system, when a Christian dies, they get to partake of the beatific vision where they will see God as he is. This doesn’t necessarily mean with the eye of the body, as we won’t be in bodies then, but with the eye of the soul. What will we see when we are in our body? I do not know entirely, but it will be great.
In that regards, we will lose all sense of time. Think about a time when you were doing something that you really enjoyed. Time was going on, but you were in so much joy that you were unaware of its passage. That’s the way the beatific vision will be.
What about people in Hell? It’s the opposite. Time will be going on for them too, but now think of something that was just dragging on and on for you and you were wondering if it would ever end. That’s what people in Hell have. They have the realization of time passing, which is part of their torment. They will never be lost in something greater than themselves that they don’t notice time. They will always just be trapped in themselves and fully aware of each passing moment.
Dreadful to think of? Yes. What do we do then? Get the word out to make sure we do our part to keep people from going there.
We shall continue tomorrow.